After almost two decades at Fox News, a tidal wave of sexual harassment allegations and angry advertisers have given the network no choice but to fire star anchor Bill O’Reilly. But while O’Reilly may be out, Fox clearly hasn’t forgotten his 20 years of service, because they just announced that they’ll let him get one more in for the road before he goes.
Wow. What a thoughtful farewell to the network’s most iconic commentator.
While details of O’Reilly’s ousting are still trickling out, Fox has publicly made it clear that the network considers it only fair that he knock one more back before he hits the old dusty trail. In a statement released today, chairman and acting CEO Rupert Murdoch addressed whether O’Reilly would be allowed to really get it out of his system, while praising the venerable O’Reilly Factor host for his dedication:
“Bill O’Reilly is an extraordinarily accomplished TV personality and an undeniable cornerstone of cable news. His departure comes after 20 years of exemplary on-air performance and loyalty to the Fox family. Fox News takes the values of trust and respect seriously, and out of respect for Mr. O’Reilly and his tenure, we are allowing him to take one more at-bat prior to his departure and will happily cover the costs for any resulting settlements.”
Meanwhile, in an internal memo, Murdoch was less delicate, but no less staunch in his backing for O’Reilly:
“Allegations of sexual harassment are not something we can afford to take lightly, as they result in millions of dollars in lost advertising. Still, we cannot ignore Mr. O’Reilly’s many years as the Fox News standard bearer. Thus, to honor him for his tireless contributions to the Fox News brand, we have concluded that one more pebble on the pile isn’t that big a difference. Go to town, Bill!”
O’Reilly himself, who is leaving Fox News following revelations that he and the network paid out $13 million in settlements related to his inappropriate sexual behavior, has yet to comment publicly on the furor. But leaked internal communications suggest that he’s “very pleased” with the opportunity to saddle up for one last rodeo, and considers it his rightful due for his stalwart service to Fox. As for what’s next for the veteran anchor, O’Reilly’s been tight-lipped as well, saying that he’ll consider all his options once he gets this one last hurrah out of his system.
Well, say what you will about Bill O’Reilly, but one thing’s undeniable: He’s earned himself a real friend in Fox News.